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After Dr Wan Azizah’s rejection, some pundits say end is nigh for Save Malaysia group

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s formal refusal to join the Save Malaysia coalition has dealt a blow to the non-partisan movement seeking a leadership change in Putrajaya, some political observers said.

Despite its frontman and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s clout, the pundits believe the Save Malaysia campaign is unlikely to gain further support from regular Malaysians due to the conflicting stands adopted by its prominent members comprising activists and politicians from both sides of the divide.

"It is a blow to movement as the leader of the opposition in Parliament is telling the world that Mahathir cannot be trusted," Prof James Chin told Malay Mail Online.

"The opposition figures supporting this movement are being fooled by Mahathir. Mahathir is using them to regain control of Umno. Once he has regained control, he will go after the opposition," added the University of Tasmania's Asia Institute director.

Several dissenting politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance as well as PAS lawmakers and activists have rallied around Dr Mahathir in the Save Malaysia group due to their shared aim to remove Datuk Seri Najib Razak as prime minister.

Some BN dissenters, notably Dr Mahathir, have made public their intention to retain the 13-party coalition in power, which does not fit in with the ideals of the opposition politicians who desire a regime change.

Former ministers Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin practically gave their endorsement for Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be the country’s next leader, which sparked alarm among some of the activists in the group.

Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the motley group's lack of cohesion and commitment will prove "fatal" to its cause.

"As the former prime minister, he has the clout and wherewithal to help take the movement forward beyond making speeches," the Centre for Policy Initiatives director said of Dr Mahathir.

"Why this has not happened shows the lack of cohesion and even commitment of the movement's leaders," he added.

He believes that Dr Wan Azizah's stance will not affect the movement as it was her personal opinion.

Similarly, Oh Ei Sun said the movement will "fizzle out" anytime due to Dr Mahathir's insistence on keeping BN in Putrajaya.

Like Lim, Oh said Dr Wan Azizah's support or lack thereof would make no difference to the movement as she was only a proxy for her husband and jailed former deputy prime minister-turned-opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"She is simply a stand-in figure for Anwar who is a symbol for toppling BN, which is in many people's mind as opposed to this curious ‘dump Najib but keep BN’ notion," the senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said of the PKR president.

Last week, Dr Wan Azizah revealed her reason for staying away from the Save Malaysia movement as due to Dr Mahathir's continued attacks against Anwar who was jailed last year on a second sodomy charge.

Malaysia’s longest-serving former PM recently told The Australian that Anwar did not have the morals to lead the country.

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